Friday, September 5, 2008

Dragon*Con 2008 Reflections

Yes, I'm still thinking about it. Can't stop as everyone is posting their pics and blogging about it.

My favorite airline, Continental, made sure I made my connections so I can arrive in time to catch the next to last Marta to my hotel. Boy, that was one long Marta escalator ride up to street level. Was I afraid to walk the streets late at night? Not this raised-New York gal. Plus there were signs that the streets were on 24-hour surveillance.

I did get a little peeved with the hotel. You would think the address was the main entrance. Nope, you can only use that entrance if you have the hotel room key. The hotel was on a triangular block. I had to drag my luggage around the pointy part of the block to access the entrance used for valet parking. Plus it had four steps. You know -- traveling from west coast 2pm to east coast 12 midnight -- did not need this. No problem, just wanted my room. Plus I get my freebie breakfast each morning before I headed to the DC hotels.

The next morning I headed to the Hyatt to get my badge for the weekend. Signage was not very good as I had to go out of the hotel to find street entrance to the registration area. You would think with my last name being at the end of the alphabet I would breeze through the pickup of my badge. Nope, everyone from Wood to Z was lumped together. I think this was one of the longest line. I think it took me a little over an hour to get my badge. I'm glad I went early as I'm sure the line got longer later in the day when everything opened at 1pm.

The hotels were swarming with people in costume already. There was still room to move around early afternoon. Different story after that. Everything under the sun came out. Of the areas I checked out, the only crowd free area was the International Tower of the Hyatt. This was where the Writer's Track was being held -- not many in costume there.

Atlanta police was in force to ensure people movement could happen between Hyatt and Marriott. You would not have been able to make the masses walk to the corner to cross *LOL*. Though I felt for the handicap as they had to take the long route around at the Hyatt as you had to do stairs in order to get to the Marriott -- shortest route.

Unlike the NY Comic Con, and I'm sure San Diego Comic Con, freebies are in short supply. Exhibitors and dealers are out to make a buck. You can find many booths that sell stuff that can make a costume if you did not bring one with you.

Of the two panels I attended, I had no problem with the first one. Lots of available seating. I got to see some of the famous vampire writers: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Suzy McKee Charnas, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Laurell K. Hamitlon and Kelly Lockhart. I've always wanted to check out Ms. Yarbro's vamp and now I want to also check out Ms. Charnas', too.

The second panel I arrived about 1 1/2 hour before start. The staffer said I need to go in a get a seat in the current session as they will not be clearing the room for the next panel. Got in, still plenty of seats in the back. I made my move as soon as the panel was over and found a seat upfront. The panel consisted of Raven Hart, Elizabeth Donald, Carol Nelson Douglas, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Mike Lee and Laurell K. Hamilton. Two more authors I want to check out -- Mike Lee and Carol Nelson Douglas.

Peachtree Centre Mall is generally closed as downtown is dead -- it's mainly a very large food court with several stores that serves the office workers during the work week. Well, Dragon*Con gave these foodies a reason to open. They were open early for breakfast and stay open late, like 11pm. Good luck in finding a spot to sit and eat your lunch. If you don't mind fresh air, go upstairs to the courtyard.

Cell phone service -- at least at the Marriott -- stink in the Exhibitor Hall areas. The people who needed to use it could not. How are you suppose to call someone about this great find? Not that I think you could hear anyone except yourself talk. As I did not use my cell at all, I wonder if my network was behind me.

Everything they say about the elevators are true. You can wait forever. Learn to get them at the very first floor or the highest floor.

Kudoos to Marriott staff in trying to move people along at the escalators. Very dangerous as they were always packed. Lots could get hurt if people did not move on. There was little room to stop and think which way you want to go once you got off.

I was leary about the weather as I thought it would be hot and humid. I took care of that. Walked early and late between my hotel and DC hotels. I did not participate in the parade. I kept majority of what I wanted to check out in one hotel ;)

Love the Marta. Great and cheap --just $4.00 roundtrip-- to move between airport and event hotels :) Remember, you need to use your ticket to get out.

The best part was meeting some great people. It's always great to put a face to someone you've talked to many times on the internet. And all those costumed people, more than willing to have their photos taken.

I'm not a Dragon*Con virgin anymore :) I need to experience it at least one more time to decide if it will be an annual ritual.

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